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Best of the Bay

Meet the winners and learn their secrets of success

We’ve saved the best for last.    
    The Best of the Bay is our last word for 2011. It’s the news of the 11th hour of the 12th month.
    It’s your judgment on who gives you the best value, service and satisfaction for your buck. On where you go for a good time. On what you like to do best in Chesapeake Country.
    You cast your votes during September and October, in ballots appearing in every week’s paper as well as online.
    In November, intern Rose Anderson compiled and counted the ballots. Then winners got the good news — including a certificate to hang on the wall, proclaiming their standing to customers new and old.
    “I’d love to win,” said framer and map specialist Elizabeth Ramirez of Whimsey Cove Framing and Art in Edgewater.
    “I want that certification for my work, so I’ll sure try harder next year,” she said.
    Ramirez is right. The award makes a difference. It swells a winner’s rightful pride, its reinforces the trust of existing customers and it brings in new customers.
    I know because Best Of awards are one of the ways I choose new businesses. I may not know anybody to ask first-hand, but I know a Best Of stands for many satisfied customers.
    Ramirez certainly wasn’t failing her customers. As one myself, I can assure you that her eye, prices, craft and customer service are all excellent.
    She missed this year’s Best of the Bay because she forgot to get out the vote. Like politicians, Best of the Bay winners know that you’ve got to ask for votes to get them.
    In my book, mounting a vote campaign is a smart business tactic. It strengthens your bond with your customers, supports your business and promotes Bay Weekly. Good results like that are why Best Of campaigns are good all around.
    And if you aren’t buoyed to the top one year, you work harder the next — harder at getting out the vote and at pleasing your customers.
    Satisfied customers are the best judges of a businesses’ success.
    If you’re one of those satisfied customers who voted in this year’s Best of the Bay, you’ve perhaps talked to us about your vote. That’s because after we counted your votes, we wanted to know more. So we searched out the phone numbers or email addresses of voters and looked you up.
    Rose did most of the calling, and the experiences she heard were great. You put thought and feeling behind your votes.
    As did Bill Barnes of Dunkirk.
    I went to the Cancer Gala because I lost my wife to cancer, he told us. Being a hard-working blue-collar guy, I expected it to be a snotty affair. After attending the event, out of one to 10, I would rate it a 12. The sense of community was overwhelming, and it was comforting to see that people weren’t only there to share their stories and show respect for their loved ones but also to spill their pockets for the purpose of the event. It was worth the bucks as much as it was worth meeting the survivors. Local businesses chipped in and the entire event was fabulous. I will definitely be attending every year.
    Inspired by your comments, we’ve also talked to many of the winners. I save most of those calls for myself, for they’re one of the highlights of my year. What’s not to like in learning the secrets of success? In getting to know our advertisers better, strengthening our bonds and learning news?
    I love hearing the fresh success story of first-time winner Gypsy Vintage (Best Antique Shop). And the story behind the surprise win of big vote-getter Zü Coffee for best bakery — not to mention Best Place to Pick up Bay Weekly.
    In one fact these winners tell me, there’s no surprise.
    We owe our success to our customers. That’s the refrain of each and every one.
    Best Customer on the Bay: That would be you.
    Best Reader on the Bay? That’s you, too.
    Happy New Year!


    Sandra Olivetti Martin
    Editor and publisher; [email protected]